Saturday, November 16, 2013

runDisney Wine and Dine Official Meet-Up Recap

Now, this was the way to kick off a runDisney race-cation weekend! I've attended several runDisney meet-ups, but this one was very special! But of course, it was an experience getting to the meet-up. Let me give you the play-by-play of my crazy Thursday.

I landed in Orlando at 5:30PM....check in for the meet-up started at 7. You can already see how this is going to go. I grabbed my bag and RAN through the terminal to Mickey's Magical Express station, scanned my pink Magic Band, and headed to the line to Port Orleans, Riverside resort. I waited about five minutes and then my bus arrived...and then I forgot one detail. Port Orleans, Riverside is the last stop on the route for this bus...Damn. So I had to go to Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, an Port Orleans, French Quarter before even making it to my hotel...where I was the only guest to get off the bus...since I was the only one left. Then the bus driver looked at me and says 'Oh, next time just tell me before we leave and I can re-arrange that.' I gave him a side-eye and ran into the lobby. I checked in, and ran to my room. I did a Wonder Woman wardrobe change and ran to the bus depot and awaited my complimentary lift to Epcot.

My transformation looked something like this.

Once I arrived at Epcot, and again ran. The time as now around 7:30PM. Now, it is important to note that the meet-up didn't even begin until around 9PM, but one never wants to be late and be THAT person. And low and behold, who do I run into in the parking lot, King of the Gazelle's Matt from Dad's Got The Runs (love this guy). We walked up to the registration table together and got our really awesome tech tees, and fast passes to TestTrack (WIN).

Matt & I...I don't think we know whats happening lol
Matt and I entered Epcot and immediately started laughing. Mainly because I think we are both a couple of basket cases ;) We then met up with fellow Team #runDisney pals Ali from MSP Run and Jennifer from Sunshine Running. I always love seeing these two ladies! I've said it once, and I will say it again, runDisney races are nothing without the awesome people you encounter and get to know! Half of the fun of going to these races is seeing and reconnecting with awesome people like Matt, Ali, and Jennifer. I decided to venture out before the meet-up and would reconnect with these fine folks later on in the evening. Along my journey, I ran into one of my favorite people, Connie! We hung out in front of TestTrack for a while just catching up! It's always a joy seeing here, talking to her and catching up! Even though we live close to one another, and we just Owned Chicago, it's always a pleasure!

Yay Connie! @ConnieKos
Before we knew it, it was time to head to the Mexico Pavilion and get ready for our VIP seating experience for Epcot's nightly fireworks and laser spectacular (and one of my favorite shows in Walt Disney World) IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth! We had superb viewing for this show and this brought ALL the smiles to my face! As we waited for the show to begin, all the attendees (all 125 of us) took this time to mingle, shake hands and take photos!  I was no exception! I ran into some familiar faces, and finally got to meet some new folks!

Herd of Gazelles - Ali - @AM588, Matt - @Marcella823, Jenn - @JennRunsDisney
Then I met this inspiring lady in person. Kimberly Markey is amazing! She runs her marathons and won't let any illness get in the way! She is truly an inspiration, and if you get the chance to actually spend a few moments with her, you will be forever changed!

Got my life with Kimberly @MMMarathoner
And of course, I had to give one of my favorite people a hug...Miss Heather from Through Heather's Looking Glass! runDisney captured a pretty awesome photo of the two of us, that made me smile and laugh! 

Heather - @HeathersLG and I being photographed...we love our readers and followers!
Before we knew it, IllumiNations had begun. I was so surprised at how close we were. We had the best seats in the World Showcase! I was amazed! All eyes were on World Showcase Lagoon and the sky above as fireworks, fire, lasers, and LED projections took over! Always an amazing experience!

The World Showcase Comes to Life with IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
At the conclusion of the show, we made our way to The American Pavilion where wonderful food and wine were waiting for us. That is you had to be 21 or older to attend this event. We dined on delicious Gardin chicken skewers, great salad, and tasted some vegan Chardonnay...yes there is a such thing as vegan wine...I will get there ;) No meet up is complete without a photo op with Mickey Mouse! So the crew and I made our way over to the line and made some magic happen!
Me and Chef Mickey!

Team #runDisney and the Big Cheese
Once character photos were done, we got down to business! We took our seats, pulled out our phones and iPads and got ready to live tweet the event. I was saving battery life, since I didn't get a chance to charge due to my Wonder Woman costume change, but I certainly got the highlights out to you guys! The presentation started with Darryl Fry and Farron Kelley from runDisney bringing us a high-energy introduction of how awesome the night was going to well as some teasers of some things to come in the near future!

Faron and Darryl. Photo Credit Disney

Next, we welcomed Tara Gidus and Jeff Galloway, the official Nutritionist and Training Consultant for runDisney! Every time these two talk they always provide some great feedback and impart such great knowledge.

Tara and Jeff. Photo Credit Disney

The meet-up continued with culinary specialists who discussed the various types of food and wine that were available during Epcot's International Food and Wine festival! They event spent time discussing what vegan wine was. Some wines during fermentation or finishing have animal additives added to them. Vegan wine is all natural with no extras...just grapes, no animal bi-product. I had no idea...and I LOVE WINE!

The New Balance came up and showed us some of their new glow-in-the-dark products. I am all about safety so I appreciated this portion of the event. They also teased the 2014 runDisney shoe...which was officially announced this morning during the runDisney meet-up in Atlanta.

Before we knew it, it was time for our run around the world! Yay! Before take off, I met up with a few of my readers Monica and Walt from Running Happily Ever After! Some of the sweetest people I tell you!

 We ran 1 1/2 times around the World Showcase and met at the Fountain of Nations in Future World. We took our group photo, then headed toward Spaceship Earth for a champagne toast to officially kick off the weekend!

Faron toasting to the meet-up. Photo Credit Disney

WOW! That was a fast-paced but exiting evening of friendship, laughs, lasers, food, merchandise, and new memories! It was also an awesome touch that it was at night! I knew that this meet-up was going to be special...and it was! runDisney didn't disappoint! Thank you to the team for putting this together for us :) It was the perfect kick-off to what was an amazing weekend for me!


  1. yay! Was great to see you, and I am so obsessed with that pic! Now we must recreate it every time lol!

  2. So happy we got to meet you in person. Thanks for the shout out, too. See you in January!